Former neo-Nazi was left for dead when his ‘comrades’ discovered that he was a Jew

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Former neo-Nazi was left for dead when his ‘comrades’ discovered that he was a Jew

John Daly, a covert Jewish member and eventual leader of 1990s Nazi group American Front found himself in grave danger when his identity was discovered.

Naomi is a freelance features writer

John having brain surgery
John having brain surgery

“Die Jew Boy Die,” they kept repeating as the blows rained down, punctuating every racist slur with savage, brutal kicks and punches.

This was the near-fatal situation John Daly, a covert Jewish member and eventual North Florida leader of 90s skinhead Nazi group American Front found himself in when his ‘comrades’, led by Richie Myers, found out about his Jewish heritage.

Despite the documentary Escape From Room 18 being broadcast on television channels all over the world and available to watch on Amazon Prime and YouTube channel Real Stories, it seems many have missed the incredible true story of John Daly.

John in his skinhead days

“I was a 15-year-old searching to belong to something”, John explains. “The documentary reveals that I had joined an ‘anti racist’ gang, a subgroup of skinheads who were actually opposed to racism. Unfortunately, this gang was infiltrated by the American Front, one of the most sinister Neo Nazi gangs of the time.”

The coercive and threatening techniques used by ringleader Richie, aka Richard Myers, leader of the Aryan Youth Force, when he was unwillingly recruited meant that John felt that he didn’t have a choice.

The web John wove around himself to try to keep his family safe ended up sticking fast and ultimately almost killing him. Miraculously, he survived the assault although it was later discovered that he had a bleed on the brain. Three surgeries later he’s still in the thick of treatment.

He’s very much a warrior and he was brave enough to testify in court against the group. This resulted in multiple long-prison terms for the leaders of various Neo Nazi groups across the US. It also marked the end of the American Front and several other major racist networks. “I only left Florida years later, after everything was done in court. If I had fled without seeking justice, it would have sent a message to these racists that they could continue to attack Jews and send them fleeing to Israel.”

John Daly was a covert Jewish member and eventual North Florida leader of 90s skinhead Nazi group American Front

Why he hadn’t reached out to Jewish organisations earlier, or gone to the police?

John smiles ruefully. “This was the 80s, early 90s – long before Google was around with the wealth of information it has available, and also I came to realise they had closeted supporters all around, in the police force, in my neighbourhood. I was afraid and I didn’t know who to turn to. I remember going to the local park, and having adults walk past, lift up their sleeve to reveal a tattoo of a swastika, and saying to me ‘keep up the fight’. And you’re like, this is a grown man with kids supporting Nazism.”

We chat about his life now and his thoughts about the rise of antisemitism and white nationalism in the United States.

“I would say a lot of what the world knows about white supremacists nowadays is smoke and mirrors. The stuff they post on their hate groups is nothing at all compared to what we see in the media. They’re far more pro-Biden than pro-Trump – Trump was too pro-Israel. There’s a stream of Nazis called ‘The Accelerationists’ who just want to see the world burn. They’re like ‘”We’re gonna take what’s already bad in society, amplify it to the point that there’s enough riots going on that hopefully other white people will say ‘this is bad, the only way to get safety is to join the Nazis’. That’s a very powerful group in America right now.”

I ask him why these Nazis feel the way they do about Jews. “They need someone to blame for their failures. It’s all about power. Hatred is part of human nature. It comes out of anger, anger that we all have. It’s very easy to take someone’s anger and manipulate it. Hate is hate and the end goal remains: to genocide Jews.

“The BDS movement uses the exact same caricatures the Nazis used before the Holocaust. We should be as vocal about Islamic antisemitism as white nationalist supremacist antisemitism. There was a survey done of the top 100 universities in the US for Jewish students. Out of those that had BDS (the Palestinian movement that promotes boycotts of Israel) located on campus, 99 percent of Jewish students said they felt unsafe there. Whereas at universities that didn’t have BDS 16 percent didn’t feel safe. That says it all, really.”

I ask John if he lives in fear of Richie Myers, who has now been released, or others from his past and he replies with a wry smile: ‘I’m very much aware of them but living in Ashkelon (mere miles from Gaza) with rockets flying around is more of an imminent threat.”

John and former skinhead Kevin after the documentary was made

In 2014 he met up with Kevin, the former skinhead and friend featured in the documentary, to visit Auschwitz. “Him laying a trap was a very real possibility. Have an old Nazi contact a Jew and say listen I’m sorry for how I used to be, let’s meet up in Europe and go to various concentration camps so I can make amends – that’s what a Jew would want to hear, right? That’s what would draw me out of hiding. Everybody was very much afraid. One of the cameramen who was here in Israel got on a plane and left.

“It was pretty powerful walking through the gates of Auschwitz with someone who has a swastika on their shoulder. He wouldn’t let me hold anything, not even my backpack. He said, ‘no Jew will work in this camp ever again’.”

John on a lecture tour

‘You Begin Change’ is the name of John’s website and is also his motto. “I feel like the Almighty has given me a gift to live again and it’s my job to do the best that I can, to speak up and speak out. I believe every Jew can make an impact. Share your personal human experiences with antisemitism with those outside the community, keep the dialogue going. Speak up, call it out when you see it and report to the authorities or local Jewish security organisations. On an individual basis, all I say is be the best person you can be.”


  • Watch Escape From Room 18 (Redemption Documentary) | Real Stories [4k] on Youtube.
  • John’s debut novel will be released later this year.
  • John can be contacted for speaking tours and lectures via his website
  • Follow ‘The John Daly Story’ on Facebook and on Instagram – @johnd_3.0
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